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Kernowaii | Ho’i Hou Ke Aloha

As we look out from the workshop, a few rogue palm trees can be spotted on the neighbouring hillcrest, below a handful of cold water souls wait patiently in the lineup and on occasion, a pod of dolphins can be seen beyond the bay. When in search of summer vibes, our design team don't have to look too far for inspiration, but with no hula girls, blossomed plumeria or outrigger canoes to speak of... recreating the Hawaiian shirt with Cornish tone is not as simple as one might think.

Kernowaii Shirt
Kernowaii Shirt

Sorry, this product is no longer available. A homage to surfing's cultural heritage, our specially created 'Kernowaii' print is a Cornish ta

Strata Boxer
Strata Boxer

A great-fitting pair of button fly boxer shorts, in organic cotton with just a touch of stretch to make them extra comfortable. Features our

Strata Tee
Strata Tee

Slimmer fitting lightweight t-shirt, made from our premium organic cotton with 1% elastane added for softness and comfort. Features our new

Inspired by the paradisiac volcanic archipelago of Hawaii, the Aloha shirt – commonly referred to as the Hawaiian shirt – was first introduced to the islands in the early 1930s by local tailors. Over the next two decades, in what would be later known as the golden age, the Aloha shirt took to the international stage and captured the public's adoration.

Throughout these golden years, the Aloha shirt developed to accustom both tourist and local likings. Traditional Aloha shirts, often worn as formal attire took a more subtle approach and are still predominantly worn by the local populous. The brighter more extravagant patterned designs, stereotypical of sorts, are ‘reserved’ for the island’s visitors.


Kernowaii Shirt Dress
Kernowaii Shirt Dress

Warmer days call for light and cool throw on pieces; this sleeveless cotton shirt dress is just the ticket. Featuring scenes from around our

Strata Bra
Strata Bra

The Strata soft bra is non-padded and non-wired with adjustable straps for a comfortable fit. Made in Portugal from organic cotton, with 1%

Strata Vest
Strata Vest

A fine supersoft organic cotton vest, with a touch of elastane stretch for comfort. Features our new ‘Kernowaii’ print - a Cornish take on t

Back at the workshop, the Aloha shirt was in for one more development. Summer collections are always a challenge here at Finisterre; as a cold water brand born from the needs of hardy British surfers the design team are ever cautious not to wander too far from the core values of the brand – this year however, a lightly trodden path was simply too hard to resist.

It would have been all too easy to produce a tropical ridden pattern or a Cornish fantasy. This shirt was an opportunity to celebrate our surroundings, windswept treelines, empty lineups and quintessential tin mines that have prevailed against the test of time. We caught up with Lead Product Designer Todd to hear the story of Kernowaii.

How did the Kernowaii print come about?

We’ve wanted to create quite a fun summer shirt for some time now, but with a background in cold water surfing we had to think how we could do our take on something which is stereotypically related with warmer waters.

We had looked at the Aloha shirt before and we were certainly interested in it but it was the justification of creating this kind of product that was holding us back. When we looked at the traditional Hawaiian patterns, it was obvious that most told stories of their natural surroundings.

Whether it was California or Hawaii, they were all of a tropical nature and featured tropical plants quite heavily, but then it suddenly dawned on us how amazing it might be if we could use this shirt or this print as a storyboard to tell people about where we’re from, our landscape and the surf we’re used to.

We started looking and immediately we began with a tin mine, Cornwall is well known for its tin mines and even abandoned they stand as popular viewpoints, people know where they are, navigate by them and might even surf by them – I feel they’re very reminiscent of Cornish surfing.

With tin mines locked down, we then had to include the super windswept trees which can been seen everywhere in Cornwall. It’s almost comical, these trees have no choice but to grow on one side and most look like they shouldn’t even be upright. As there are actually palm trees in Cornwall we decided we could do our own version of the classic palm tree and from there it was just a case of putting our favourite things together.

Where did the name come from?

We simply combined our inspiration. Kernow is the Cornish name for Cornwall and the Aloha shirts come from Hawaii - joining the two together just felt right.

What does the Kernowaii print mean to Finisterre and to you for that matter?

It’s telling our story, that’s the whole brand. Our roots are in the sea and our version of that is possibly more of the dark romantic version and I feel this is why I quite often find it easier to work on our winter collections, then when summer hits it can be a little more difficult.

I think it’s important that we can tell our stories all year round and lets face it, the British water is never really warm and you’ve still got people wearing full wetsuits even on the hottest days.

Back to the point, I feel if we can have the stories and the brand pumping through our designs then people get to see what we’re about and that’s exactly what I like to think we have achieved with the Kernowaii print.


 Words by Tom Baker | Photography by David Gray

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